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FiOS TV Gets On-Demand ABC TV

28 Oct, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Verizon Communication’s nascent fiber-optic television network Oct. 28 got a boost when Disney-ABC Television Group said it would offer its primetime network line-up for free through video-on-demand (VOD) in high-definition.

The ad-supported programming, which includes "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost," "Samantha Who?" and "Ugly Betty,” among others, is available the day after its network airing with one qualification: It cannot be fast-forwarded.

As with other ABC VOD offerings, Verizon agreed to disable the fast-forward option on its FiOS TV VOD service. In return, the fledgling network gets much-needed programming and ABC can guarantee its advertisers expanded coverage and eyeballs — key antidotes in the age of cable and the digital video recorder (DVR).

ABC first made the fast-forward-disabled VOD offering available last fall during a trial in California. During the trial, third-party conducted research found that 93% of users of fast-forwarding-disabled ABC VOD content found the advertising acceptable in exchange for gaining free access to their favorite shows.

The research also found that the addition of ABC programming to VOD expanded consumer interest in the platform and increased frequency of usage by previous users.

"This … enable[s] us to both make our most popular content available to viewers on a variety of platforms and add value to our distribution and advertising partners,” said David Preschlack, EVP, Disney and ESPN Networks affiliate sales and marketing.

The addition of a new digital partner continues Disney’s trend of expanding distribution channels beyond linear TV to include streaming and downloads via the Internet on ABC.com, iTunes and Netflix, among others.

Separately, new FiOS customers who sign up before Oct. 31 get a year’s free use of either an HD DVR or HD home media DVR. Existing Verizon customers who upgrade to a bundled package get one free month of HBO and Cinemax, including more than 25 channels with access to hundreds of more VOD titles.

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